Today’s guest is a lady that I first connected with a few years ago in the Headsweats ambassador FB group.
It has taken a while to get her on the show, but we are finally making it happen.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles today with Susan Schenberg!
Relentless Forward Progress
Susan Schenberg is a big believer in relentless forward progress and that is why she loves competing in timed races.
“Pushing the limits of whoever you perceive yourself to be and bring out the inner strength which is often buried under comfort.”
Ultra marathons challenge both physical and mental limits.
Timed races typically occur over the course of 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours.
The time is fixed and the laps or miles counted at the end is the amount the participant completed in the allotted time.
Susan especially loves the 48-hour race format, because of the extra challenge it provides.
In order to have a successful race, she must have plans in place to handle nutrition, hydration, foot care, and sleep deprivation.
Injury is the only reason Susan would allow herself to quit, because “the pain of regret is far worse than any pain” she’s feeling.
Susan grew up in Chicago during a time period prior to the introduction of Title IX, a law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in any school.
There was no real opportunity for a girl to participate in a sport other than cheerleading.
Upon entering high school she moved to St. Louis and due to a friend’s insistence, she joined the track team with that friend.
They were the only two females and didn’t receive encouragement or support from the coach or teammates.
Her lack of involvement in sports changed when as an adult, her son asked her to help him get faster at running a mile.
As she watched her son run around the local track, she began to wonder if she was capable of running a mile as well.
She successfully ran a mile and felt as if she could continue running and that is when her passion for running started.
Now whenever she races, her son is sure to say “you’re welcome” for introducing her to the sport she loves.
A Lifelong Learner
Susan is the type of person that when she becomes interested in something she researches as much as she can on the topic.
In the beginning, she was like any other beginner runner, and started with the 5k distance and progressed from there.
It was only after reading Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes that Susan realized that an entirely new world of running existed.
That began her foray into the ultra world, beginning with a 12 hour timed race.
Much to her surprise, she won her age group in that first race.
A new friend she met during the race suggested that she try a 24-hour race next.
Susan was intrigued by the challenge and ended up winning her age group there as well.
She embraced the local ultra-running community and made lifelong friends.
Ability To Suffer
In general, the worse the conditions in a race, the better Susan tends to do.
She has the innate ability to dig deep, which she attributes in part to having to always work hard.
In ultra-running specifically, runners can start to lean as they run the longer they go.
No one knows exactly what causes this, therefore each individual has to learn how to manage it to the best of their ability.
Susan has found that using hiking poles can help, but when it worsens the only thing that helps to re-set her body is sleep.
Like most obstacles in ultra-running, she is learning how to manage whatever arises.
Even with the best plan in place, she needs to be flexible in order to be successful.
Susan first heard about the Badwater Ultramarathon after she watched the movie Running On the Sun.
She was intrigued and wanted to find a way to get involved.
Over the years as she has gotten more involved in the ultra community, she has met many runners including some elites.
One of those elite runners shared with her that he was applying to run Badwater.
Susan offered to help if she was needed and got the call to crew/pace only a week before the race.
She jumped at the chance and was there within days.
The entire time from start to finish was unlike anything she had ever experienced.
That was her first time at the infamous race, but it wouldn’t be her last.
Never Say Never
Since that first Badwater, Susan has paced/crewed multiple times, most recently for a close friend.
Entry into the race is an involved application process that requires, at minimum, three 100 mile races.
Aside from the grueling heat, the runners start below sea level and cross 3 mountain ranges before finishing at the top of a mountain.
Susan has come to love everything about the race.
When it comes to if she will ever apply, her answer was “never say never.”
In her time as a runner, Susan has found that friendships that arise from running are unique.
The many miles and hours spent together break down barriers quickly and often form long-lasting friendships.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Running Against Time…How Far Can You Go? By Susan Schenberg
- St. Louis Ultrarunners Group
- Running on the Sun-Badwater (film)
- 3100 Run and Become
- Spring Energy
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